carrot cake was his favorite

carrot cake | the merry gourmet

Oh, hello!

I didn’t intend to take such a lengthy break (a whole month!) from blogging. It just happened. I’ve sat down at my desk to write numerous times, and I’ve even amassed a small collection of first paragraphs. None of these were fit to publish, so they languish in a DropBox folder on my computer. If I were able to gather the many paragraphs I have written and then immediately deleted into one volume, I would have an impressive anthology of crap to show you.

This break would have been wonderful had I actually planned it. Instead, I have suffered through three-and-a-half weeks of guilt over not posting. I’m fixing that today.

My life has been occupied with work and family, but in a mostly good way. I’m also finding time to knit in the evenings and on weekends. I completed a shawl recently, one I hope to be able to wear when it gets chilly or during our summer vacation up north.  I’m trying to complete this wrap in the next few weeks. I’m so happy to be knitting, but I do realize that my evening and weekend knitting has partially replaced some previously carved-out writing time. I’m trying to find a balance.

I am also reading a lot. My life would be empty and sad without books. I’ve got three going right now: Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; and Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith, & Family by Pam Anderson, Maggy Keet, and Sharon Damelio. I’m listening to the first one on audiobook, and despite what my 11-year old daughter says, listening to a book does count as reading. I’m reading the second one on my Kindle, and the third one is a hardback book I received free from the publisher.

carrot cake | the merry gourmet

I’m over halfway through the Three Many Cooks book, and I’m really enjoying it, maybe even more so than I expected (though I knew it would be great, given who the authors are). The book is a memoir by the three women behind the Three Many Cooks food blog, and it’s written in their three voices, each one alternating chapters, with a recipe or two at the end of each chapter. I find that I’m bookmarking nearly all of the recipes to try later. The stories that Pam, Maggy, and Sharon tell are engaging, and as I’m reading, it feels as if I’m sitting down with them in their kitchen, sharing stories over cups of coffee. It’s a good feeling, and it’s a good book.

Despite the numerous savory recipes I’ve earmarked in Three Many Cooks, I knew I wanted to bake the carrot cake that Sharon shares on page 43 of the book. My father loved sweets, but of all desserts available to him, carrot cake was his favorite. I can’t recall a specific instance where I learned this. It’s just something I’ve always known, like the color of his eyes or the way he smelled.

I never baked a carrot cake for my dad, despite knowing that it was his favorite. Looking back, I think I thought I wasn’t capable of making a carrot cake that would please him, that it would not be good enough. I’m sure I also thought that I had plenty of time to make one. A whole lifetime, his and mine. Turns out, I was wrong, on both counts.

This was a great carrot cake. My dad would have loved it.

carrot cake | the merry gourmet

Yield: Serves 12-16.

Carrot Cake

I slightly adapted this recipe from Sharon Damelio's recipe for Perfect Carrot Cake in Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters: Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith & Family.

I omitted the cranberries and pecans in favor of a smoother textured cake, as I'm not a fan of nuts in cakes (or brownies or fudge, for that matter). When making the frosting, Sharon recommends leaving the cream cheese and butter on the counter for at least 4 hours, and I agree. I tweaked the frosting a bit, for our tastes.


For the cake:
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1-1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the frosting:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch kosher salt
2-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, measured and then sifted


Make the Cake:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees, with the oven rack in the middle position. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line with a parchment round, then butter and flour the pans, shaking out any excess flour.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, chop the carrots very finely to about the consistency of large couscous. Transfer carrots to a medium bowl and rinse the food processor bowl (you'll need it again).

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk to blend thoroughly.

In the food processor fitted with the steel blade, mix the eggs and sugars until thoroughly combined. With the food processor running, slowly add the vegetable oil in a steady stream until well blended. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Add the carrots and stir.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the pans cool on a rack to room temperature before inverting them to remove the cakes. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting:

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt. Gradually add the sifted confectioner's sugar, beating until the frosting is light and airy (2-3 minutes).

Assemble the cake:

Put a small dollop of icing in the center of a cake plate. Place one cake on the plate. Using an offset metal spatula, evenly spread about 1 cup of the frosting over the top of the first cake. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread the entire cake with the remaining frosting and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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33 Responses to “all-butter pie crust dough”

  1. Brian @ A Thought For Food — September 19, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

    I have to admit, I have never made a pie… but this year will be it! I’m gonna do it! And I think yours will be the recipe I use!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — September 19th, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

      Brian, I tend to make the same pie over and over again — pumpkin. And it’s getting to be that time of year again. My kids are already asking for my pumpkin pie, so that will probably be an upcoming post. I’ve been thinking of branching out into the other fruit pies. We can journey into pie baking together. 🙂

  2. Kim - Liv Life — September 19, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

    I love all butter pie crusts! That is the only kind I make. I had someone tell me the other day that if it wasn’t made with lard or shortening, it really wasn’t a pie crust… and this lady claims she is writing a book on pies! In any case, your crust look just perfect, and pumpkin pie sounds good!

  3. Gail — September 19, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

    My heart is soaring! You’re BAKING!!!!! BAKING!!!!!!! Baking a pie. Next up…cake.
    I adore making pie crust. Tart crust…..any crust. ‘Cause it means baking.

  4. Jennie — September 20, 2010 @ 7:01 am

    All-butter crusts are my favorite too. I’ve been in a fall sort of mood ever since we came back from Cape Cod. For me that’s the official end of summer. This September 23rd business is a mere formality. I even brought my pressure cooker out last week. Happy baking!

  5. Eileen — September 20, 2010 @ 8:42 am

    I’ve never made an all-butter crust before – I’ll bet it tastes rich and flavorful!

  6. Macaroni Mama — September 20, 2010 @ 9:53 am

    The song! The pie crusts! Those are definite signs of fall!

  7. Maria at Fresh Eats — September 20, 2010 @ 10:37 am

    I’m going to make a pie soon, and this crust is going to be my inspiration. I’m all about the all-butter variety. Shortening scares me. : )

  8. RavieNomNoms — September 20, 2010 @ 10:50 am

    Love it!

  9. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle — September 20, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    I could have written this post! I’ve used the Pillsbury crust for years and to be honest…still would without guilt but have found that if I make a double crust version like you have…I don’t need it because I always have a homemade version in the freezer.

    I use the standard Pate Brisee crust with a bit more sugar for a sweet filling which is almost exactly like yours but with a bit less sugar; is that the southerner..needing things a bit sweeter? 🙂

    In anticipation of knowing I’ll be making my own now, I also take a pound of the butter I get from Costco (you know…4 lbs at a time!), cube it and stick it in the freezer. I guess I end up with my own little pie dough section in there after all is said and done but those things keep the convenience factor up and the buying Pillsbury no longer a factor!

  10. May Ling Wu — September 20, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

    I always use store bought crust but this year I’m gonna try to make my own. Thanks for the post!

  11. Kate @ Savour Fare — September 20, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    (Trader Joe’s frozen is really good). I’ll have to try this recipe, because while I love the rollability of my sour cream pie crust recipe, it’s almost too rich for some pies. I need to improve my pie dough skills, too. Husband loves pie.

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — September 20th, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

      We don’t have a Trader Joe’s here, but I sure wish we did. Sour cream pie crust? Oh, my. I’m going to have to try that. That sounds like some serious goodness.

  12. Megan Gordon — September 20, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

    Yes…today has felt like fall big time here in CA. The light’s just different…I’ve had pie crust on my mind a lot lately. When I was in Seattle for IFBC, I took a pie class from Kate McDermott and she uses lard in addition to butter. I just started and I have to say, it’s kind of awesome (but strangely hard to find here!). But a classic butter pie crust? What’s better. Yours looks beautiful.

  13. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — September 21, 2010 @ 6:44 am

    This is absolutely magical MJ. I am afraid of pastry and when I was at culinary school, it was the class where I had to keep leaving to room to calm down because I felt I was taking out all my frustration in my pastry! I have bookmarked this though and will try it soon with a fall pie!!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — September 21st, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

      Okay, Mardi. You, the macaron master, can absolutely handle a pie crust. If I can do it, I KNOW you can.

  14. Heather @ The Single Dish — September 21, 2010 @ 10:48 am

    Homemade pie crust is the best! I use Ina’s recipe- has Crisco and butter in it. Delicious! I might switch things up and try your all-butter dough. Thanks!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — September 21st, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

      Heather – I’ve used Ina’s recipe, too, and I like hers. The Crisco is just a little freaky to me. Something about the consistency. I’m weird, though. I admit it. 🙂

  15. Kirsten — September 21, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that I made this crust yesterday in a mascarpone apple pie, and it was wonderful! And so easy!! I had never made my own crust before- I, too, was a long-time purchaser of the Pillsbury. I usually abhor pie crust, but I found this to be quite palatable.
    Thanks for curing me 🙂

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — September 21st, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

      Yay, Kirsten! You just made my day. 🙂

  16. Judy — September 22, 2010 @ 12:16 am

    It’s amazing how much people are moving away from brands and store-bought convenience like Pillsbury. I recently just moved away from storebought breadcrumbs, amongst many, many other things. It’s great that once in a while your repertoire includes pie crust, home made! It’s also great that you guys have seasons. Looking forward to fall chowder and winter soups isn’t as dreary as it might sound. I would love it if it snowed on the tropical island where I am!

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — September 22nd, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

      Judy – We sort of create our seasons here in north Florida. We have a very long summer and then a brief winter. Our fall and spring last for about 5 days each. 🙂

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  18. Chris — September 25, 2010 @ 8:57 am

    I am TOTALLY with you on the fear of shortening. I refuse to have it in my kitchen–there is something so processed and un-natural about it!– so all-butter pie crusts are all you’ll find in my kitchen. I am a diehard fan of Jamie Oliver’s all-butter crust recipes (I have a couple of them) but am intrigued by your addition of kosher salt. This is a must-try for my next pie. Thanks!

  19. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — September 26, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    So glad to finally see a pie crust made with all butter (and none of that Crisco business). I know some people swear by it, but I’ve always made pie crusts with butter and they’re incredibly flaky. The trick is to have the butter and water super cold and not over process!

    Thank you!! Love your blog.

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